Just because your small business has a smaller payroll and fewer flashy resources than bigger companies doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t offer competitive benefits. Instead, you can turn your business’s size into a strength and offer benefits that will keep your employees happy.
As businesses prepare to reopen and begin limited hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic, benefits are more important than ever. Benefits should remain a top priority for businesses recruiting during this chaotic time, even though the job market currently favors employers.
COVID-19 also brings disruptions for current employees. Whether they need to rely on paid time off (PTO) to care for a sick family member or rely on healthcare benefits, having a competitive benefits package shows your employees you care about them.
Here are some steps to offer the best benefits possible to your small business employees and prospective hires.
- Don’t Skimp on PTO
Tempting as it may be for your small, growing business to squeeze every minute you can from your employees, resist the urge. Skimping on PTO is a penny-wise and pound-foolish proposition.
This is true even if your business is struggling to make ends meet. It may bring some short-term cost savings, but it will come at the expense of the long-term health of your business.
If your workers are feeling pressure to always work and are denied suitable time off to relax and recharge, it will not be long before they look around and find other companies that will allow them to have a life.
There are creative ways to keep employees happy with their time off without going crazy about the amount of time they are given and putting your company in an unsustainable position. One possibility is to provide employees with a flexible PTO policy. Instead of offering workers a set number of vacation days, sick leave, or family care, consider giving your workers the freedom to use their total days however they see fit.
Working parents will appreciate the opportunity to use their time off to attend to children’s activities, school field trips, or family vacations. Younger workers will love the chance to pool up their PTO to use on a longer trip or for a string of short getaways once travel restrictions are lifted.
- Listen to Your Employees
A small company has one substantial and irrefutable advantage when it comes to keeping employees happy: Employee perspectives are easy to find. You and all the decision-makers at your company should get to know all of your employees.
Take the opportunity to listen and better understand their needs and desires. Consider their requests and opinions when it comes to employee policies, be they ditching the company picnic in favor of an outing to the ballpark or tweaking your vacation policies.
By giving your employees a voice, you will likely keep them more satisfied than a large organization can.
- Consider Unconventional Perks and Benefits
Your small company may not be able to match large companies that can indiscriminately boost salaries to recruit and retain workers. But you might be able to provide your workers with benefits that won’t cost your company much money and simultaneously give them attractive perks that your competitors may not be offering.
One way would be to give your employees the option of 4-day workweeks. Instead of 5 8-hour days, let them do their work over the course of 4 10-hour days. Many workers would love an extra day during the week to run errands, take care of family, or simply relax. It could cut their commuting costs—a nice perk—while reducing pressure on you to increase vacation time.
Similarly, depending on the type of business you have and your remote work capabilities, be creative with your telework policies even after COVID-19. Many businesses have transitioned to remote work during the pandemic, and some big tech companies are even letting employees work from home indefinitely.
This can extend beyond letting employees work occasionally—or even frequently—from home. If you have a valued employee who needs to follow a spouse or significant other to another city because of job or family needs but would like to continue working for your company, why not try to make it work? You can retain experienced workers and send a signal that your company values its employees.
Employee Benefits Are Critical for Hiring During COVID-19
In the end, this type of flexibility will bolster your company’s standing with prospective and current employees, giving you an edge in attracting the best workers when you start hiring again.
Seamus Roddy is a Content Developer for Clutch, an Inc. 1000-recognized business-to-business research, ratings, and reviews firm in Washington, D.C. He primarily researches HR and workplace topics.